Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Unit Study Adventures: Planning out the Year

This is a long overdue "sequel" to a post I did awhile back answering some questions I had received about unit studies.

I've been in full swing planning mode for about two weeks now. I love planning our school year and mapping out which unit studies we'll explore when. Our new year begins next Monday, and I'm getting very excited!

Although I rarely end up following my exact plans for the entire year, I really like to think through a general outline for the year.

Here is how I go about it:

1. I begin by asking the kids what they are interested in learning
about. This is what they came up with:
Superman
-The Ocean and Sharks
-Outerspace
-Football
-Baseball
-The Civil War

Giggly Girl
-Cats (pumas, leopards, cheetahs, lions)
-Turtles
-Zebras
-Elephants
-Reindeer
-Giraffes
-Butterflies
-Coyotes
I think I'm seeing a theme here. :)

2. I go through my Five In a Row manuals and the Homeschool Share site to see if I can find any literature-based units that will go-along with the topics the kids have given to me.(For example, we'll begin our Ocean explorations with the Five In a Row Unit for Night of the Moonjellies.)

3. I go back through the Five in a Row manuals and Homeschool Share again and choose any additional units I want us to cover this year.

4. I use this form I created to jot down our school calendar for the whole year, filling in the weeks we will be "in school" and the weeks we will be on some sort of break. Then I plug a unit into each week. We usually spend one week on FIAR units, but sometimes two or three for a topical unit like the ocean.) I personally like to plan our studies around seasons, holidays, fieldtrips, or special events happening in our area.
(Note about the form: We are a Charlotte Mason family, so I included columns for Artist and Composer study because sometimes - not always - I'll try to coordinate these with certain units. For example, if we're doing a unit on France, we might choose Monet as our artist and Debussy for our composer during that time.)

The schedule I begin with will be revised many times throughout the year, as new interests and opportunities arise.

As for weekly planning, I try to look ahead about two weeks at the time, reserving books, planning field trips, and adding in any extra activities I've found that are not in the FIAR or HSS plans. During weeks when I need things to be low key, or I feel myself burning out, I use NO extras. I stick strictly to the lessons in the manuals. This requires no thinking and only minimal prep. on my part! :)

That's it for how I do my yearly planning. Hope this was helpful to someone!

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